Articles Posted in 15-Passenger Van Accidents

Last week, our West Palm Beach personal injury law firm reported that the National Transportation Safety Board is calling for all states to ban texting and cell phone calls while driving. We also wrote about the upcoming debate among Florida lawmakers regarding whether or not to ban texting in the state.

This week, we’d like to blog about a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey on the distracted driving habits of Americans. Over 6,000 drivers participated. Per the results:

• At any moment, nearly one out of every 100 drivers is e-mailing, texting, surfing the Internet, or doing something else with a hand-held device while operating a motor vehicle.
• Most of those surveyed admitted to answering phone calls while driving.
• Close to two out of every 10 drivers surveyed admitted to e-mailing or texting. Drivers in the 21-24 age group were most likely to text while driving.
• Over 50% of drivers don’t believe that making a call affects their driving performance.
• About 25% said they don’t think that e-mailing or texting impacts their driving.
• 90% of drivers don’t like it if the person driving the car they are riding in is e-mailing or texting • More drivers said they read texts over sending them.
• Two times as many drivers admitted to answering calls over making them while operating a motor vehicle.

As evidenced by the survey results, most drivers think that they can text or talk on the phone safely while driving. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Cell phone conversations and texting takes a motorist’s attention away from the task at hand, which means he/she is not 100% focused on the task at hand. This can make it hard to avoid causing or becoming involved in a South Florida traffic crash. Remember that it takes just a few seconds for a catastrophic Miami motor vehicle accident to happen-those same seconds that a driver’s eyes are off the road in order to read an e-mail or dial the phone.

Over the last couple of years, Federal, state, and local safety officials have made a concerted effort to educate people about the dangers. Yet even when there are laws limiting cell phone use or banning texting, some people can’t seem to stop themselves, which places everyone in danger.

Drivers can no longer say that they didn’t know that distracted driving can kill people. As the victim of a distracted driving accident, you may be able to pursue Palm Beach traffic crash damages from the negligent motorist.

More drivers texting but few think it’s dangerous, survey says, The Denver Post/AP, December 9, 2011
NTSB pushes for nationwide ban on cellphone use for drivers, The Washington Post, December 14, 2011
National Distracted Driving Telephone Survey Finds Most Drivers Answer the Call, Hold the Phone, and Continue to Drive, NHTSA (PFD)


More Blog Posts:

As NTSB Recommends Full Cell Phone While Driving Ban, Florida Again Considers Whether to Make Texting Illegal, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, December 13, 2011
Coconut Creek Woman Killed in Broward County, Florida Car Crash Involving Lighthouse Point Police Vehicle, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, December 5, 2011
West Palm Beach Motorcycle Accident Leaves Police Officer with Serious Injuries, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, November 26, 2011 Continue reading

In the upcoming legislative session due to start next month, Florida legislators will once again consider whether texting should be banned in the state. Right now, Florida is one of 15 US states that haven’t made texting while driving illegal. Florida is also among the few states without any type of restriction on cell phone use while driving. Our Miami personal injury law firm is familiar with the types of catastrophic South Florida car crashes that can occur because someone was distracted driving.

This time around, however, lawmakers who favor a statewide texting ban may be coming into the debate with the extra support they need following today’s recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board that use of cell phone and text messaging devices while driving be made illegal throughout the US-unless, of course, there is an emergency situation. Although the NTSB cannot impose state laws, its recommendations are taken seriously by lawmakers.

The federal safety board called is calling for the ban because it says distracted drivers are threatening public safety. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey, distracted driving was a factor in at least 3,092 US traffic crashes last year and at any moment during daylight hours, close to 1 out of 100 drivers is using handheld phones. NTSB member Robert Sumwalt even went so far as to call distracted driving the “new DUI.”

When explaining the need for a nationwide ban, the NTSB cited the tragic multi-vehicle Missouri traffic pileup in August 2010 involving a tractor-trailer, a pickup truck, and two buses. More than 30 people were injured and two people killed, including the 19-year-old driver of the pickup, who, within 11 minutes, sent or received 11 text messages. The other victim that died was a 15-year-old that was riding the school bus.

Texting, emailing, and talking on the cell phone are dangerous activities when done while driving. You want to work with a Palm Beach car crash law firm that knows how to prove that the other party’s negligence caused your injuries or a loved one’s death. Just because these driving habits are still legal in Florida does not mean you cannot recover damages.

Cellphone ban while driving? The tragedies behind the issue, Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2011
NTSB recommends full ban on use of cell phones while driving, CNN, December 13, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Coconut Creek Woman Killed in Broward County, Florida Car Crash Involving Lighthouse Point Police Vehicle, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, December 5, 2011
West Palm Beach Motorcycle Accident Leaves Police Officer with Serious Injuries, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, November 26, 2011
Miami-Dade Car Accident Lawsuit Filed in Florida Wrongful Death Case Against Coral Gables Teenager, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, October 7, 2011 Continue reading

According to the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there has been a 4.6% drop in the number of Florida traffic deaths. Compared to 2009, when there were Florida 2,565 motor vehicle fatalities, there were 2,444 Florida traffic deaths reported in 2010. That’s a nearly 31% drop since 2005. County wise, the number of traffic fatalities also went down in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward Counties last year.

2010 figures also show, however, that the number of Florida pedestrian deaths have gone up by 3.5%. There were 482 pedestrian fatalities in 2009 and 499 Florida pedestrian deaths in 2010.

Other 2010 Florida Traffic Facts:

It is no longer a secret that texting and surfing the Internet while driving can be dangerous. Yet people continue to get hurt and die because someone was looking at the phone, checking email, sending texts, or surfing the Web rather than paying attention to the road. As our Palm Beach personal injury law firm has mentioned in the past, the US Department of Transportation reported 5,474 distracted driving crashes in 2009 alone. Not only that, but 11 teens a year are killed because of texting while driving. Also, the National Safety Council reports that 28% of traffic crashes that occur involved drivers talking on the phone or texting.

At Palm Beach Atlantic University yesterday, participants were given the opportunity to experience virtually how catastrophic texting while driving can become when they tried texting while on a virtual course. The simulated program, run by PEER Awareness road manager Robert Tower, travels to different schools to help educate teenagers about the dangers of texting combined with driving. The program also includes news footage of interviews with families who lost loved ones in distracted driving accidents involving drivers who were text messaging.

Hopefully, education and awareness will discourage teens and adults from texting or doing anything that keeps them from watching the road. Recently, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against a woman accused of updating her Facebook while driving. The pedestrian who died was a 70-year-old man. Also, another man accidentally drove his car through a bridge guardrail and into a river because he was texting.

Unlike in a number of US states, in Florida there is still no ban on texting while driving even though 17 bills have been introduced pushing for this. That said, this does not mean that texting while driving is not negligent driving when injury or death occurs as a result.

Program exposes the dangers of texting and driving, Sun-Sentinel, February 21, 2011
Ban on Texting while Driving Urged for Florida, First Coast News, February 9, 2011
Representative says texting while driving ban could fail in FL, WZVN, February 21, 2011
Suit: Woman in fatal crash was updating Facebook, Chicago Tribune, February 15, 2011
Man who was texting behind wheel drives off Danvers bridge and into river, police say, Boston.com, February 22, 2011

Related Web Resources:
Distracted Driving, National Safety Council
Distraction.gov, US Department of Transportation
Distracted Driving, Peer Awareness Continue reading

November 8-14, 2010 marks Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. According to the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, 41% of drivers surveyed have admitted to drowsy driving. Unfortunately, what many people fail to realize is that driving while tired is similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Impaired judgment, slowed reflexes, blurred vision, a foggy mind, and possibly drifting in and out of consciousness can be symptoms of both drunk driving and drowsy driving. Our Miami car accident lawyers have seen the catastrophic consequences that can arise when someone is exhausted or falls asleep while operating a motor vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drivers who fall asleep while driving are responsible for 71,000 traffic injuries, 1,550 fatalities, and over 100,000 motor vehicle crashes in the US annually. Per the AAA Foundation’s new study, drowsy driving plays a role in 16.5% of deadly US traffic crashes.

Among the study’s findings:
• Young drivers, ages 16-24, were the ones most likely to fall asleep while driving.
• Men more than women were more likely to fall asleep while operating a motor vehicle.
• 26.1% of those who admitted to falling asleep while driving did so between the hours of noon and 5pm. The percentage was about the same for drivers who fell asleep between midnight and 6am.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a person that risks drowsy driving takes the chance that he/she will fall asleep at the wheel. That said, some groups are at higher risk of drowsy driving. In addition to young drivers, other motorists who are potentially at risk of this dangerous driving behavior include:

• Shift workers
• Commercial truck drivers
• People with sleep disorders-especially undiagnosed ones
• Business travelers suffering from jetlag
• Tired travelers

One need only look back to the 2009 Miami tractor-trailer accident in Oklahoma involving a 76-year-old trucker who investigators say fell asleep at the wheel. The multi-vehicle chain reaction crash that he triggered killed 10 people and injured 6 others.

Study examines toll of drowsy driving, Washington Post, November 8, 2010
Study shows drowsy drivers behind the wheel, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Driving Tired is Like Driving Drunk, US News & World Report

Related Web Resources:
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, National Sleep Foundation (PDF)

Read the AAA Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Report (PDF)
Continue reading

Circuit Court Judge Glenn Kelley says that the Palm Beach wrongful death lawsuit against polo club founder John Goodman can proceed. In issuing his ruling, Kelley denied Goodman’s motion to postpone the civil lawsuit until the criminal case against him is resolved.

Goodman is charged with vehicular manslaughter, DUI manslaughter, and leaving the scene of a crash in the Palm Beach County car accident death of Scott Wilson. Wilson died early on February 24 when his Hyundai Sonata was hit by Goodman, who ran a stop sign. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office reports that Goodman’s Bentley convertible was traveling at about 28 mph above the speed limit when he struck Wilson’s vehicle. The impact of the collision caused Wilson’s auto to turn over into a canal. The 23-year-old then proceeded to drown.

Meantime, the polo magnate allegedly fled the Palm Beach County traffic crash site and did not notify police about the accident for close to an hour. Even hours after the collision, Goodman’s BAC was 0.177, which is two times the legal driving limit.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2,558 people were killed in Florida traffic accidents last year. Alcohol was a factor in 770 of the fatalities. On one hand, these latest figures show positive progress. In 2008, NHTSA reported 2,980 Florida traffic fatalities-887 involving an alcohol-impaired driver. The number of Florida traffic deaths have gone down. That said, our Miami car accident law firm looks forward to the day when there are even less traffic injuries and deaths occurring each year in Florida.

Nationally, there also has been a decrease in motor vehicle traffic crash deaths and injuries. NHTSA reports that there were 33,308 motor vehicle fatalities in 2009-a 9.7% drop from the year before and the lowest number of deaths since 1950. Even the number of US motorcycle crash deaths went down from 5,312 fatalities in 2008 to 4,462 deaths in 2009.

More 2009 US Traffic Deaths and Injuries Facts:
• 2,217,000 traffic crash injuries
• 503 truck crash deaths
• 17,000 truck accident injuries
• 90,000 motorcycle crash injuries
• 4,092 pedestrian deaths
• 59,000 pedestrian injuries
• 630 pedalcyclist deaths
• 70,000 pedalcyclist injuries

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says that the government is committed to making the roads safer.

NHTSA also has just released its 2009 Distracted Driving Fatality and Injury Numbers:
• 5,474 US distracted driving-related deaths
• 448,000 distracted driving-related injuries

Mr. LaHood has referred to distracted driving as an epidemic. Talking on the cell phone, texting, eating, playing computer games, fiddling with an iPod or stereo, surfing the Internet on a laptop, watching a movie on a portable DVD player, putting on makeup, and reading a book or magazine are just some examples of activities that people have been known to engage in while driving that have distracted them to the point that traffic crash injuries and deaths have occurred.

Although many states have imposed at least some (if not a full) restriction on texting and cell phone use, currently Florida has no such restrictions.

Distracted Driving 2009, NHTSA (PDF)

Highlights of 2009 Motor Vehicle Crashes (PDF)


Related Web Resources:

Florida Department of Transportation

US Department of Transportation

Distraction.gov
Continue reading

With families and other groups headed on vacation or other activity-related outings throughout the summer months, federal safety officials are reporting the increase of 15-passenger van rollover accidents from June through August. New data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that 31% of all deadly 15-passenger van rollovers occur during this time period. Officials are warning van drivers to execute the proper safety measures to prevent these auto crashes from happening.

The NHTSA says that the chances of a 15-passenger van rollover increases when the vehicle is fully loaded with people and cargo. 50% of 15-passenger van deaths in 2006 occurred in vans that were loaded to full capacity. 59% of those who died were not using seatbelts. While the number of deaths involving 15-passenger vans has decreased over the years, there were still 58 fatalities in 2006.

15-Passenger Vans
While 15-passenger vans are supposedly made to safely transport large groups of people and cargo to and from their destinations, federal safety studies show that the more passengers and cargo are loaded in the van, the greater the chances of a rollover accident happening.

15-passenger vans have a high center of gravity. This gravity center moves up and back the more occupants there are in the van, which increases the chances of the van turning over.

Once a 15-passenger van rollovers, occupants tend to be even more prone to injuries because:

• There is insufficient crash padding to protect passengers when they are thrown against the van
• Lack of emergency exits
• Insufficient structural integrity to prevent the van from collapsing

Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, major internal injuries, and death can result in rollover accidents.

In South Florida, our 15-passenger van rollover accident lawyers can help you file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against a negligent driver, or, if we find that you operated and loaded the van correctly and you were still involved in an auto crash because of defects in the van’s design or due to vehicle malfunction, we can pursue a case against the van’s manufacturer.

Fatalities to Occupants of 15-Passenger Vans, NHTSA, May 2008 (PDF)

Related Web Resources:

Reducing the Risk of Rollover Crashes in 15-Passenger Vans, NHTSA.gov
15-Passenger Vans: High-Riding Death Traps, SafetyForum.com Continue reading